How to clean a bean to cup coffee machine: an easy step-by-step tutorial

Bring your bean to cup coffee machine back to life with these cleaning tips

Bean to cup coffee machines
(Image credit: Chevanon / Pexels)

The best bean to cup coffee machines make delicious coffees and other hot beverages, and require very minimal effort on your end. But with their impressive technology and many moving parts, including a bean grinder, steam wand and hot water dispenser, they can be tricky to clean.

While cleaning your coffee maker probably isn’t the most exciting task in the world, it’s important to take care of your bean to cup coffee machine. Most bean to cup coffee machines have a 5-10 lifespan, but if you’re not cleaning or taking care of your device, it can make truly disgusting drinks, and stop working altogether.

To help you avoid these issues, here’s how to clean a bean to cup coffee machine including general maintenance and descaling tutorials.

How to clean a bean to cup coffee machine: a tutorial

Before I get into the tutorial, it’s important to always stick to the manufacturer’s instructions. How you clean a Sage bean to cup will be different to how you clean a De’Longhi bean to cup, so hold onto the instructions and cleaning supplies you received when you bought the machine. But in general, the following step-by-step tutorial will show you how to clean a bean to cup coffee machine.

Empty the water tank

Start by emptying the water tank and giving it a wash. Leaving water in the tank for too long can cause it to smell, so aside from changing the water regularly, you should also give it a quick wipe between uses. This will also help with the descaling process later in this guide.

Remove the drip tray

The drip tray is probably one of the dirtiest parts of your bean to cup coffee machine as it collects the water, coffee and grounds that the machine dispenses. Typically, most machines come with an indicator in the drip tray that will rise when it gets too full, so when you see it starting to bob to the surface, it’s time to wash your drip tray.

To do this, remove the drip tray from the machine and pour out everything it’s collected. Next, give it a good scrub using warm water and washing up liquid to get rid of any residue. Leave it to dry before replacing it.

Smeg Espresso Coffee Machine with Grinder review

(Image credit: Beth Girdler-Maslen / T3)

Unblock and wipe down the steam wand

If your bean to cup coffee machine has a steam wand attachment, chances are you’ve experienced a few blockage issues, but luckily, it’s incredibly easy to unblock and clean. Depending on the type of machine you have, you should be able to twist off the end of the frother. If you can do that, remove it and soak in a jug of water while you do the next steps.

When you bought your bean to cup coffee machine, you should have received a cleaning wand, so use this to clean the inside of the steam wand. Reattach the frother tip and place the entire wand in a jug of warm water and cleaning solution that your manufacturer provided. Alternatively, you can add a small amount of white vinegar. Run the milk frothing programme into the jug to flush out any stubborn milk residue. Repeat this step with just warm water in the jug so you get rid of any cleaning solution or vinegar. Finish by wiping down the steam wand with a cloth.

Check and clear the grinder

Next, you’ll want to check and clear the coffee machines’ attached grinder. Start by unlocking the hopper that holds the beans from the grinder or conical burrs. Once it’s out the way, carefully remove any loose beans or dirt and debris using a cloth. Reattach the hopper and put the lid back on. If you notice any blade issues or wear and tear when you do this, I recommend contacting your manufacturer to see if you can get a replacement part (most brands cover this under a warranty).

Bean to cup coffee machines

(Image credit: Blake Verdoorn / Unsplash)

Clean the group head

This cleaning job is where it starts to get a bit more technical, as this part of the machine is where water meets coffee. I have the Sage Barista Touch Impress and when I do the group head cleaning, the touchscreen will talk me through what to do and when I need to do it, so the best advice I can give is to (you guessed it) follow the instructions!

Generally to clean the group head, you’ll want to add a rubber guard and a cleaning tablet into your portafilter. Next, attach it to the main body of your coffee machine and start the cycle so water runs through. Remove the portafilter, dump out the cleaning solution and let the cycle continue so it expels excess water and gunk.

Wipe down the exterior

Finally, wipe down the exterior of your bean to cup coffee machine with a slightly damp cloth to remove fingerprints, coffee grounds and any other debris. 

How to descale a bean to cup coffee machine

Descaling your bean to cup coffee machine must be done periodically to remove any mineral deposits from the water. This can impact the taste of your coffee, brewing times and can affect how your coffee machine works over time.

Siemens EQ900 bean to cup coffee machine

(Image credit: Siemens)

Similar to cleaning the group head, your bean to cup coffee machine should have a descaling programme that you can follow, and your machine should come with a descaling solution for you to use. Select this option on your machine, add the solution to your water tank and let it run. As you do this, remember to keep everything in place, like the drip tray and jug, so it can collect everything.

How often should you clean a bean to cup coffee machine?

If you use your coffee machine every day, you should clean it thoroughly at least once a month. Depending on the type and brand of bean to cup coffee machine you have, your machine should alert you when it needs descaling, group head cleaning and unblocking the steam wand, so make sure to do that when an alert pops up.

Aside from that, you should clear out your drip tray as soon as it gets full, replace the water in the tank after every few uses, and wipe down your steam wand and exterior of the machine to keep everything looking nice and shiny.

If you’ve cleaned your coffee machine and it’s still not working properly, here are 5 tell-tale signs you need to replace your coffee machine.

Bethan Girdler-Maslen
Home Editor

Beth is Home Editor for T3, looking after style, living and wellness. From the comfiest mattresses to what strange things you can cook in an air fryer, Beth covers sleep, yoga, smart home, coffee machines, grooming tools, fragrances, gardening and much more. If it's something that goes in your house, chances are Beth knows about it and has the latest reviews and recommendations! She's also in the know about the latest deals and discount codes from top brands and retailers.

Having always been passionate about writing, she’s written for websites, newspapers and magazines on a variety of topics, from jewellery and culture, to food and telecoms. You can find her work across numerous sites, including Wedding Ideas Magazine, Health & Wellbeing, The Bristol Post, Fashion & Style Directory, TechRadar, CreativeBloq and more. In her spare time, Beth enjoys running, reading, baking and attempting craft projects that will probably end in disaster!